The Fern family, Lorraine, Will and twins Hazel and Noa, right, prepare to leave the Gray Public Library after attending a reading program on Thursday. The New Gloucester family has been without power since Monday. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

The prospect of a fourth day without electricity – and the possibility of three more – was a bit daunting for Will and Lorraine Fern, a New Gloucester couple with 8-month-old twins.

He’s been washing their dishes – especially Noa and Hazel’s baby bottles – at Abbott, where he works nights as a laboratory technician. She’s been doing laundry at a friend’s house and counseling therapy clients online, thanks to a generator that’s keeping their devices charged, the refrigerator running and a few lights on.

Fortunately, Lorraine Fern said, the babies are unaware of the challenges they have faced since power went out Monday morning at the height of a storm that plunged nearly 500,000 Maine electricity customers into darkness and caused widespread flooding.

“They’re completely indifferent,” Fern said Thursday morning. “But it’s harder doing everything when it’s dark. And CMP says the power won’t be restored until Sunday.”

The Ferns were among thousands of Mainers still struggling without power Thursday as utility crews ventured out across the state for a fourth day in a row. The family found a little normalcy attending a reading program for babies Thursday morning at the Gray Public Library.

As of 4 p.m. Friday, Central Maine Power still had about 17,054 customers waiting for electricity, down from about 400,000 during the peak on Monday. Kennebec, Somerset and Oxford counties remain the hardest hit, largely because restoration efforts there have been slowed by widespread flooding.


But plenty of communities in Greater Portland were still experiencing significant outages Thursday, too, including Gray, New Gloucester, Pownal and Harpswell.

Davis and Jessica Mercier were among about 20 homeowners on Fran Circle in Gray who still didn’t have power Thursday evening.

Davis Mercier, of Gray, picks up storm debris from Fran Circle on Thursday. The neighborhood was particularly hard hit by the storm and he was grateful that he has a generator to power his house. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

“We are doing pretty well. Everyone in our circle is very supportive,” Davis Mercier said. He answered a few questions via text because their cellphone coverage is spotty without a boost from Wi-Fi. He’s on paternity leave from Idexx after their third child was born a few weeks ago.

“We weren’t able to get our car out of our driveway until today due to downed poles and wires,” Mercier said, “but our neighbors were great about letting us borrow cars to get our kids to school and get things from town.”

Mercier said they are fortunate to have a standby generator that runs on two large propane tanks. He recalled the challenges many experienced during the ice storm of 1998, when fewer people had generators.

“It powers our entire house and we have two woodstoves and a pellet stove as well to stay warm,” he said. “The generator makes it very easy, especially compared to the ice storm of ’98, when we didn’t have a generator. Our main concern was being unable to get the tanks refilled due to the roads being blocked.”


A chorus of generators filled the air Thursday morning in a neighborhood near Outlet Beach along Sabbathday Lake in New Gloucester.

Michael O’Neill and Julie Nadeau have 3 inches of water in their basement, and they still don’t have power or Wi-Fi. So, Nadeau, who works remotely for a pharmaceutical company, went to DaVinci’s Restaurant in Lewiston on Wednesday to hold a virtual meeting with co-workers.

Michael O’Neill and Julie Nadeau, who live near Outlet Beach on Sabbathday Lake in New Gloucester, had 3 inches of water in their basement. They still didn’t have power or Wi-Fi Thursday and have been running a generator since Monday. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

“It was amazing and it was loud,” Nadeau said, laughing. “DaVinci’s was great about it.”


Michael and Joan Nickerson, Nadeau’s neighbors, also have a generator.

“We’re coping with the situation,” said Michael Nickerson, a retired construction worker. “Got a woodstove, too, so that helps. I pity people who don’t have electricity.”


CMP said on its website that it expected to restore power to more than 55,000 more customers by the end of the day Thursday, focusing on the communities of Brunswick, Alfred, Bridgton, Lewiston, Skowhegan, Farmington, Rockland, Augusta and Fairfield.

“The vast majority should be restored by the end of the day Saturday,” CMP said.

Source: Central Maine Power

Versant Power, which serves northern and eastern Maine, reported about 787 outages as of 4 p.m. Friday, down from nearly 100,000 during the peak.

Michael Nickerson, of New Gloucester, has been running a generator since losing power in the storm. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

In some communities, roads and bridges have been closed due to flooding, although the risk has decreased now that the water levels of two major rivers, the Androscoggin and the Kennebec, have receded. The situation forced some communities to evacuate neighborhoods Wednesday. Maine hasn’t seen this level of flooding since 1987.

Thankfully, the weather has been quiet and precipitation-free since Monday and is expected to stay that way through early next week.

That’s good news for Brittney Clogston and Chad Leeman, whose family had to flee their home along the Crooked River in Casco, leaving five cats behind.


They were able to return Thursday evening after the river receded and power was restored.

“It’s really exciting to be back home,” Clogston said. “It’s so nice to see the Christmas tree all lit up and the cats were so happy to see us.”

She said the house escaped flooding, but belongings stored in totes in a crawl space were ruined. She’s worried about the chance of flooding in the future.


“This was traumatic for me,” Clogston said. “I almost lost everything. I don’t want to go through this again.”

Gov. Janet Mills, speaking to reporters Wednesday, urged residents to stay safe during the restoration effort and pledged to provide all available state support and resources to the utility crews.


In communities where outages remain prevalent, warming shelters and charging stations have opened. The Maine Emergency Management Agency has a list on its website.

Mainers are used to powerful storms and prolonged power outages, but this week’s storm has been historic. CMP has said that it has more line workers in the field this week, some from as far as Ohio, than it did for the Ice Storm of 1998, one of the most catastrophic storms in the state’s modern history.

“In my 35 years working for Central Maine Power, the damage some Maine communities sustained is on a scale I’ve never seen,” CMP President Joe Purington said Thursday.

Steve Viegel, a line worker from American Electric Power of Columbus, Ohio, strips hardware from a shattered utility pole on Fran Circle in Gray on Thursday. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Four people are confirmed dead from Monday’s storm. Two people were killed by falling trees and two more were in a vehicle that was swept away by the Swift River in the town of Mexico. One victim was found in the vehicle late Wednesday; the other was found by a search crew Thursday.

In addition to the deaths, officials have rescued several people who were stranded in floodwaters, either in their homes or vehicles.



Separate from the widespread power outages, the state is likely to be rebuilding roads for many weeks to come. Mills said she plans to apply for federal disaster relief funds to help cover the costs, which will be substantial.

And many businesses have sustained damage as well. Mills on Thursday visited the Spinning Mill, a former yarn mill in Skowhegan that’s being redeveloped into a mixed-use retail and housing complex. Developers estimated $3 million in damage there.

“While we are still assessing the damage from this week’s storm, it’s clear that many people and communities across Maine have difficult days ahead,” Mills said Thursday.

For the Ferns, who live in New Gloucester, the power can’t come on soon enough.

This will be the twins’ first Christmas, so by Monday would be great, Lorraine Fern said.

“Our own Christmas miracle,” Will Fern said.

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